Ah, coffee: it’s not only one of life’s simple pleasures, but also a necessary staple of most college students’ diets. It satisfies, enlivens and aids many sleep-deprived seniors in stay ing awake during late-night study sessions.
USC is packed from one end of campus to the other with coffee shops, ensuring that no matter where you are or what time of day or night, there is a barista waiting with cup in hand to provide you with your desired fuel. Suddenly, all-nighters and 8 a.m. classes don’t seem so impossible.
The appeal of the well-known and loved Trojan Grounds (affectionately dubbed “TroGro”) lies in its convenience and availability — located on the ground floor of Birkrant Residence Hall, Trojan Grounds is the only USC food provider open 24/7. With its late- night hours and close proximity to Leavey Library, Trojan Grounds is a solid go-to when you need a shot of espresso at 3:00 a.m. to cram for a midterm or finish your WRIT 140 paper. The downside to Trojan Grounds, however, is that its coffee options are somewhat limited. Your best bet is to stick with a cup of basic coffee (they proudly serve Starbucks brand) and avoid the lattes, which more often than not leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Unlike Trojan Grounds, if you want a latte done right, head across campus to the sparkling new The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf located in the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The coffee giant has the full menu and quality of every other Coffee Bean store, which means the coffee is always smooth and distinctive while the lattes are creamy and flavorful. In addition, their ice blended drinks are the perfect antidote to the summer heat that is bound to linger on through September. This Coffee Bean even comes equipped with an outdoor courtyard; the only downside is that its comfortable benches and table-seating is located in the heart of the student traffic zone. It’s best to grab Coffee Bean on the run and enjoy it elsewhere — preferably in air conditioning.
Tucked away behind Marks Tower, Ground Zero is perhaps USC’s most unique coffee shop. Famous for its out-of-this-world milkshakes, this underground cafe also serves decadent coffee and provides an unbeatable atmosphere. Since Ground Zero also functions as a popular performance venue, its not only a great late-night alternative to Trojan Grounds but also a cheap way to get some quality entertainment without leaving campus. Ground Zero is my favorite place to meet friends for an afternoon pick-me-up, because with its large plush couches and comfortable mood lighting it reminds me a lot of Central Perk from Friends. The shop’s only drawback (and for some, this is a deal-breaker) is that it is the only on-campus eatery that does not accept Dining Dollars, so be prepared to come with cash, credit card or discretionary funds in hand. I recommend a basic latte or cappuccino, but they also have a variety of flavored syrups in stock to satisfy your sweet tooth.
If you are feeling less social and need somewhere to study and sip simultaneously (since the libraries are strictly drink-prohibitive), venture over to LiteraTea, located at the very edge of Doheny Library. Although its focus is on tea, a healthier and less-caffeinated alternative to coffee, this cafe offers delicious and bold Peets coffee (typically stronger than Starbucks) and a variety of specialty drinks. There are tables both inside and outside in the Nazarian Pavilion that are quiet and serene — the perfect atmosphere for writing papers or reading a good book.
For caffeine on the go, Starbucks coffee is available at The Lot, Tutor Hall, Café 84 and at food carts in various buildings scattered throughout campus.
The school year may just be beginning, but when classes start to pick up the pace in a couple weeks, students are sure to start pounding back espresso shots. Thankfully, USC offers a wide variety of choices for every type of coffee lover.